Saturday, December 3, 2011


THE MAGNIFICENT KNOBBED WHELK. Along Jekyll Island's south end at Thanksgiving, my Chiboogamoo and I witnessed an abundance of this beautiful gastropod. It is the state shell of Georgia! (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

#REVERB11: December 3 Prompt--Pick one moment during 2011 that you felt most alive. Describe it in vivid detail. Dear PILGRIMS, I chose to merge the #REVERB11 prompt with my own topic of CONVERGENCE--choose three things and explain how they converged with the result being an EPIPHANY!

I am so in love with my brilliant husband and scientist Chiboogamoo, the great big exuberant natural world as expressed along our Georgia coast, and the EPIPHANIES that POP when all three of these converge! I am one lucky girl when this occurred during our 2011 Thanksgiving weekend at Jekyll Island!
HALLELUJAH TRUTH (photo by Chiboogamoo)

Our EPIPHANY-POPPING experience begins at low tide on the Friday morning following Thanksgiving. I am equipped with my 17-year-old scraped-up Giant bike, filled-water bottle, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hand-me-down Canon camera, and one of the most knowledagble ichnologists in the world. He is equipped similarly but with a newer bike and camera (with a telephoto lens!), and most important of all—me (HALLELUJAH TRUTH) and Paleontologist Barbie, who he continues to introduce to neo-ichnology along the Georgia coast.
CHIBOOGAMOO (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

Sixty minutes into our exploratory beach ride towards the south end of Jekyll Island, meandering from surf to dune and back to surf again, the EPIPHANY POPPING is in its early stages! Excitement electrifies the ocean breeze! There is SOMETHING to INVESTIGATE! Chiboogamoo loves observing predation of any kind. In this case, it is shorebirds predating on food sources in the sand! We quickly rest our bikes above the ebbing tide and move eagerly toward the surf with its highly populated areas of dwarf surf clams, beak marks, and bird tracks. Chiboogamoo is exuberant—he sites evidence of “double” probing made by “some” shorebirds as they foraged for their breakfast.

PILGRIMS! Let the TRUTH BE STATED—without my brilliant ichnologist husband Chiboogamoo, these bird hieroglyphics would have little meaning to me. Hence my dear PILGRIMS, the joy in riding bikes along the Georgia coast with an ichnologist! From traces, an ichnologist identifies the animal and interprets behavior! Here “double probes” consume Chiboogamoo’s attention.

Experiencing a low-level of euphoria, he announces that “sanderlings” have made these marks! The double probe marks, which are so distinctive of this small shorebird, surround us in an abundant dizzying array. One, two! One, two! One probe for detecting the food source. A second probe for consuming the food! “One, two! One, two! And through and through the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!”


While Chiboogamoo is studiously taking photos of these “one-two’s,” I become increasingly focused in following the trails of bird tracks and their double probes wanting to “imprint” these patterns in my memory, so I can interpret sanderling feeding frenzy next time—even in the absence of my brilliant ichnologist husband Chiboogamoo! I also love looking for deviations in existing patterns! As I am walking along studying--POP! It happens! I SEE SOMETHING MORE than the object of my focus!

Alone, what I SEE is inexpressible—I lack the vocabulary in order to explain it fully! But I am with one of the best ichnologists in the world, I summon him, and we learn something new for ourselves. This is the THRILL of LOOKING and yes, being with a knowledgeable ichnologist!
WHELK PATTERNS DEPICTED BY DWARF SURF CLAMS! With Chiboogamoo's foot for scale,  you can see our exciting EPIPHANY! Each cluster of clams signals a burrowed whelk! How cool is that? (photo by Chiboogamoo)

Together we observe a shockingly large number of knobbed whelk shells (the state shell Georgia) of all sizes—from an inch-and-a half to almost 8-inches long. They are heavily congregated along the shore stretching out in front of us! Even more interesting to me is that some shells are inhabited by the fleshy-footed gastropod and while others have been woefully abandoned. Apparently, the strong winds and high tides had brought this abundance of knobbed whelks to the shore.

As we continue our observations of living and dead whelks, we begin to see a “new” pattern emerge. The living burrowing knobbed whelks are surrounded by dense numbers of dwarf surf clams, which in turn are encircled by uncountable number of sanderling tracks and one-two probes! What IS GOING ON, we ask each other excitedly! Such an intriguing natural phenomenon! (See my Chiboogamoo’s blog on whelks for a more detailed explanation of this.)

Together, Chiboogamoo and I begin extracting whelks from their resting places, again and again until we confirm that we know how to find a whelk based on the color of the sand and concentration of the dwarf surf clams.
SUCCESSFUL PREDICTION OF WHERE THE WHELK OCCURRED! Isn't it just fine to let your eyes lead you to finding more than you knew at the beginning of your journey! Discovery is sweet! (photo by Chiboogamoo)

All of sudden, I have numerous questions:

  1. Why are there so many whelks right here, right now?
  2. How is it possible that we have never seen this phenomenon before?
  3. Does this occur only at this time of the year (November) or when the moon is a crescent?
  4. How is it that all ages and sizes of whelks are congregating at this end of the island?
  5. Why do the dwarf surf clams cluster around the burrowing whelks?
  6. What are these small shore birds eating?

PILGRIMS these questions fall into the SACRED realm of neo-ichnology! My dear and loving scientist who I adore photographing during our ichnological explorations takes joy hearing my questions because he is asking them too. He knows some of the answers, hypothesizes the rest, and vows to find certainty in consulting his resources once we return to our Atlanta home!

This event of SEEING what we had not seen before was the HIGHLIGHT of our day. PILGRIMS  we live in a WONDEROUS WORLD. My Chiboogamoo and I take time to SEE what surrounds us and when we do, we are REWARDED! It is as if MOTHER EARTH SEES us right back, and when we stop to look at HER, SHE SPEAKS.

That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Soul Blog with me and tell me what you know about the knobbed whelk, that state shell of Georgia. Better yet, tell me what you have SEEN today in YOUR WORLD and what MOTHER EARTH has said to you!

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